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Virgin Galactic completes the first commercial flight into space

Virgin Galactic completes the first commercial flight into space

With three Italian scientists on board, Richard Branson’s space company Virgin Galactic has launched commercial operations in space. The VSS Unity spaceplane launched Thursday with its mother plane, VMS Eve, from a spaceport in the US state of New Mexico, live images from Virgin Galactic showed. At an altitude of about 14 kilometers, “VSS Unity” separated from “VMS Eve” and began a short, short flight.

Then the “VSS Unit” landed back in the spaceport. In addition to scientists Walter Veladi, Angelo Landolfi, and Pantaleone Carlucci of the Italian Air Force and the National Science Council of Italy, several Virgin Galactic pilots and commanders also participated in both aircraft. During the short flight, the scientists collected data for about a dozen experiments. They were also allowed to leave their seats for a short period of time, where they experienced weightlessness and flew the Italian flag.

Tickets cost about $450,000

British billionaire Branson has been working towards starting commercial aviation operations with his Virgin Galactic company for nearly 20 years – with frequent setbacks. The next commercial launch is already scheduled for early August, the company said, this time with “private astronauts”. According to the company, tickets for the tour, which takes about an hour and a half, will cost around $450,000 (€411,409.76).

Branson isn’t the first company to offer spaceflight to the wealthy interested. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his company, Blue Origin, have already sent many passengers into space. Another competitor is Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX, which has so far flown two entirely private missions to the International Space Station (ISS). In July 2021, Branson flew into space with his spacecraft in a virtual race among billionaires ten days before Bezos.

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